While residential care homes and assisted living services have their place, providing care for aging parents so they can live in their own home is the best option. No one wishes to lose their independence when they get older. When surveyed, a full 96 percent of those questioned said that they wished to live in their home and not go into a care home when older. That says it all.
For parents who have their own children that they’re carefully bringing up, and elderly parents too, the burden must be carefully balanced. While their kids need much of their time outside of their workplace environment, it’s equally important that their own parents are assisted to live as independently as possible, for as long as practicable.
Here are a few tips to help you take care of elderly parents.
Making changes to the home takes negotiation between the parent and their elders. It is best to approach it with a sit down and a list of suggestions to not appear to be taking over their home. Using photos to illustrate the suggestions also makes it easier for the elderly to visualize the suggested changes before they agree to them. Ensure the screen is large (a tablet would be better or a “phablet” smartphone) and the brightness turned up to make it easier for them to see the screen clearly.
The first area to attend to is the bathroom. Additions like bars to grab hold of to climb out of the bath or shower safely and putting in non-slip mats to prevent accidents is a good start. There are anti-scalding devices for faucets to prevent the water being too hot for them too.
Elsewhere in the home, de-cluttering often helps as people build up possessions over the decades. Any loose cables or wires sticking out should be attended to. An elderly person taking a fall often ends up with a broken bone that is difficult to heal later. Adding motion-sensing LED lights that turn on when sensing body movement and smoke detectors to protect against accidentally forgetting to turn off the stove help too.
Health & Wellbeing
Helping parents improve their health and participate in their wellbeing is sometimes a challenge. People who have been sedentary for a long time tend to stay that way. Where it affects their health is in areas like bending down to pick things up, general mobility, and functional balance. Being overweight or obese is certainly a cause for concern, but it’s difficult the older someone gets to deal with that because it requires a strict adherence to a healthier diet and regular walking several days a week, at a minimum, to make progress towards weight loss goals.
One good bit of news is that older people tend to eat less which makes weight management and weight loss through the consumption of fewer calories more likely even with minimal exercise.
Also, be sure to think about what medicine is needed. A pill box is a good idea for older people who forget what pills they are meant to take and those they’ve already taken that day. Getting forgetful is a natural thing as they get older; it’s not a personal failing. Work around it.
Protection from Accidents
Sadly, some elders slip and fall in their own home. It can happen when getting out of the bath or simply when standing up from the toilet. Stairs are a vulnerability point, but transitions from one room to another where the floor surface changes suddenly can cause accidents too.
It’s a good idea for them to wear a ATC Alert pendant on a lanyard around their neck just in case. There are several products available from this 5th generation family-owned business that deliver elderly monitoring systems. One of their products features fall protection to call the contact center automatically when a fall is detected. Other products from ATC provide push button calling facilities or connecting to 9-1-1 services using the built-in dial and microphone facility in their devices.
For the elderly, the sense of isolation is palpable. As they’re less able to get out and about as often and fewer of their long-term friends are still with us, it’s important that they still meet with old friends and extended family. People contact is very necessary for everyone or loneliness will set in.
There are organizations and local facilities set up to bring elderly people together. Look for local information on meetups, clubs and associations to suggest to a family member who would benefit from attending.
Safety with Driving
The last thing you want to deal with as a parent is your father or mother having an accident in their car injuring themselves and possibly other people too. Vision tends to fail on them and they aren’t always aware of it. The amount of light they see naturally diminishes over time making driving in darker conditions (especially at night) particularly hazardous.
There may come a time when stepping in to suggest no longer using their vehicle and selling it off is the best idea. Suggest using the proceeds to set them up with a local taxi firm or a service like Uber if they can understand how to use it on their own. At least when calling a driver over, they maintain their independence that way.
Staying Safe Financially
Certain people prey on the elderly who tend to be more trusting of tall stories. These types of people may come to the door or call them randomly or send mail. It’s useful to talk with your elderly parent about these concerns to avoid problems. Perhaps an agreement can be reached to keep accounts with the majority of their funds in a safe place away from temptation or an agreement can be reached to discuss any spending over a certain amount first. It’s a good idea to review their bank statement and other bills to look for anything out of the ordinary and question it where necessary too.
When taking the appropriate steps, elderly members of the family can be protected. Whether that protection comes in the form of assistance, financial advice, home proofing for safety, or a service that lets them call in an emergency, it’s all helps them to stay more independent for longer.